A survey by Lok Niti-CSDS has said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will almost completely capture the traditional vote share of the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly election this time around. In the 2017 Assembly election, the BJP won 99 seats and the Congress got 77 seats. The BJP got 49% and the Congress 41.4% votes.
The Lok Niti-CSDS survey says that this time around, the BJP’s vote share will be higher than 47% and the Congress vote share is projected to nearly halve to 21%. The AAP is predicted to get 22%. This means the AAP is likely to get 20% of Congress’ 2017 vote share and only 2$ of the BJP’s vote share.
When the votes are split, the result is usually in the favour of the ruling party. Unlike the BJP and the Congress, AAP’s roots are not deep in the rural areas of Gujarat, hence despite a projected 22% vote share, it may not get more seats.
This is a part of AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal’s two-phase strategy for Gujarat. In the first phase, the plan is to halve the Congress votes, even if it gives the BJP a bigger majority compared to 2017. In the second phase (the 2027 Assembly elections), the AAP will try to replace Congress as the main opposition.
Why is BJP’s bastion of Gujarat different?
Gujarat is the BJP’s laboratory of Hindutva. Muslims constitute 9% of the total population of the state. The AAP can succeed in taking the place of the Congress as the main opposition to the BJP in the 2027 Gujarat Assembly elections.
More than 22% of Gujarat’s voters are Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) and about 40% are Other Backward Castes (OBC). Kejriwal has promised a lot of freebies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shifted the debate from education and healthcare to ‘revdi’, saying that Gujaratis want corruption-free governance, not ‘revdi governance’.
The electoral results in Gujarat are likely to show that the split in vote share helps the ruling party. If the national opposition does not come together, Modi could reach a third consecutive term in 2024 Lok Sabha polls. But can the opposition leaders unite? Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) views Rahul Gandhi’s Congress with suspicion. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee will not be ready to go with the the Congress unless she is made the prime ministerial face of a united opposition.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar is trying to weave the opposition Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) with the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) by requesting them to put their egos aside and take on the BJP. He has warned that if this is not done, there will be a repeat of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The bitter truth for opposition leaders is that no non-BJP, the non-Congress party can win significant votes in Lok Sabha elections outside their home state.
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